The gridlock between the agitating doctors in West Bengal and the state government reached its sixth day today. Yesterday, after the striking junior doctors rejected a proposal from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for talks at the state secretariat Nabanna, today a beacon of hope appeared, as the agitating doctors asserted that they were open to talks with the government, the venue for which would be decided later in the day by a governing body of medical practitioners.
Earlier, the agitators had insisted that West Bengal CM should visit the city’s NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the agitation, to resolve the issue.
However, after an internal meeting late on Saturday, the doctors have stated that they were ready to hold a dialogue in any form, but the venue of the meeting would be decided later.
“We will be deciding on our next step during a governing body meeting today. We are open to any dialogue as always. The venue for the meeting will be decided soon,” a spokesperson of a joint forum of junior doctors told the media persons here.
Initially, the West Bengal doctors crisis began as a small protest by a group of junior doctors at the state-run SSKM Hospital after doctors and interns at the NRS Hospital were brutally attacked by a mob on the premises of the hospital after a patient named Mohammed Sayeed reportedly died of natural causes. As the protest began attacks against doctors further escalated and mobs attacked students and interns at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital as well. Due to the state government’s apathy towards the assaulted doctors, the protest gradually took a nationwide dimension with doctors from all across the country pouring in with their support and raising voices of dissent against the West Bengal government.
The CM aggravated the situation by threatening the doctors and by asserting that the doctors protesting are ‘outsiders’. Following which there were mass resignations from doctors across the state. Reports indicate that as many as 500 doctors have resigned from their posts so far. Indian Medical Association (IMA) has announced a pan-India strike from 17th June to 18th June.
Moreover, after the situation somehow seeming to slip out of hands, Mamata during a press conference on Saturday issued a fresh appeal to the doctors to get back to work.
Interestingly, while the doctors are insisting that Mamata Banerjee visits the NRS hospital personally to meet the protesting doctors, Banerjee on her part has not done that, she instead has been merely issuing appeals.
Earlier, a delegation of 5 doctors led by Sukumar Mukjherjee met Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna and offered to resolve the stand-off between the state and the striking doctors. It was owing to this that the CM’s secretariat had sent an invite to the striking junior doctors to meet at Nabanna which the doctors had subsequently rejected.
It was reported that the Bengal Governor had called the Chief Minister to discuss the ongoing crisis but got no response from her in return.
Meanwhile, the Calcutta High court had also questioned Mamata’s government on the doctors strike and strongly directed the state to meditate and find a solution to the crisis at the earliest.
The services, however, continue to remain affected in the emergency wards, outdoor facilities and pathological units of many state-run hospitals and private medical facilities in the state, leaving several patients in the lurch.